cover image They All Laughed at Christophe

They All Laughed at Christophe

Gerald Weissmann, Weissman. Crown Publishers, $17.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8129-1618-8

Social attitudes and politics play a major role in determining the nature of medical discoveries, stresses Weissmann ( The Woods Hole Cantata, etc.), clinician and researcher at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. Thus, 17th century society assumed that the biological order mirrored its own hierarchies, including superiority of male over female. In these wide-ranging, highly entertaining essays, Weissmann deplores the divorce of science from the humanities in medical education and pays tribute to the great medical discoveries of amateurs as opposed to those of ""ologists'' (e.g., the discovery of Salicin, the basis of aspirin, by the Scotsman T. Maclagan). While the author gently scoffs at Vogue's scientific claims for cosmetics and fitness programs, he is scathing about the fear and obstruction of science fueled by fundamentalists and antivivisectionists, along with creationists who campaign to ``put prayer back in the laboratory.'' (March 27)